Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 7 No. 4 | Winter 1985 (Seattle) /// Issue 14 of 24 /// Master# 62 of 73

the computer revolution, but much of today’s manufacturing work. The computer revolution gives us an opportunity to create a far more exciting and, yes, more humane world. FB: Many would argue that, even if the computer revolution has the potential you suggest, it cannot succeed because of the power of large institutions to block this kind of fundamental change. What do you see as the major institutional obstacles blocking the full development of this revolution? JJSS: The present distorted allocation of resources to the military is one of the major institutional hindrances. It is a hemorrhage of vital resources. What threatens the United States, more than the Soviet Union does, is the “rising tide of mediocrity” that the U.S. National Commission on Excellence in Education described in its report on American schools. That nine in ten young Americans comprise such a “tide of mediocrity” is a far greater threat to America’s future than the Red Army is. I admire American universities, but I find it painfully evident that the education presently provided in America’s elementary and high schools is a fragile foundation for national strength. We should use our resources to remedy this situation, as a national security issue. Also, there is a more efficient way to deal with the Soviets: expand technological exchanges. I question the wisdom of the policy of controlling the trade of technology with the Soviet Union. The computer revolution, in particular, may have a contribution to make in improving U.S.-Soviet relations. As part of their attempt to develop trade and acquire Western technology, Soviet leaders have made a commitment to introducing personal computers into the Soviet Union —because they realize they have no choice. If these plans proceed, if Soviet citizens gain access to personal computers and data banks, the flow in information within the Soviet Union is bound to increase. Introducing computer technology into industry would probably lead to some decentralization of the Soviet economy. One can only speculate at this point, but it seems quite likely that some loosening of Soviet society would occur in this case. The United States should encourage this trend by increasing its trade with the Soviet Union and by increasing U.S.-Soviet technological exchanges. This would be a much more positive, productive goal than the current one of trying to bleed the Soviets white by forcing them to overspend on defense. China was as thick a communist state T HE COMPUTER REVOLUTION COULD LEAD TO THE OPPOSITE OF A GLOBAL DIVISION OF LABOR — IT COULD MAKE EACH REGION OF THE WORLD SELF-SUFFICIENT. FLEXIBLE MANUFACTURING TECHNIQUES SHOULD MAKE THIS SELF-SUFFICIENCY POSSIBLE IN THE NEXT DECADE. as the Soviet Union is. But China is now moving toward greater freedom, in part because of the enlightened position the United States took toward it. The same thing could happen with the Soviets. This is, in any event, the only hope. The present nuclear buildup is unlikely either to transform the Soviet Union or to make the West more secure. FB: What about other obstacles to the computer revolution, such as neo-mer- cantile protectionism or the growing power of multinational corporations ? Isn ’t there a danger that we are headed toward a world dominated by a few giant corporations or economically powerful nations capable of imposing their economic terms upon the rest of the world? What future can the computer revolution have in such an environment? JJSS: Protectionist measures that divide the world into cartels would lead to economic stagnation. And we cannot accept the notion of a world run by large, even if “benevolent” corporations. Corporations are organized to generate profits, not develop human resources. I see a different kind of future, in which each nation, each region, develops its ability to manufacture its own products, to feed itself, to have its own universities. The computer revolution could lead to the opposite of a global division of labor—it could make each region of the world s'elf-sufficient. Flexible manufacturing techniques, which allow one factory to produce more than one kind of item, should make this self-sufficiency possible in the next decade. I am speaking mainly of self-sufficiency in basic products. Nations and regions will, of course, still pursue a very active exchange of knowledge. For the near future, there will continue to be a global division of labor. For example, as we have seen, it wouldn’t make sense for Saudi Arabia merely to copy the West’s automobile manufacturing capacity at this time. The United States, by applying computer science to agriculture, will strengthen its position as one of the world’s largest and most powerful agricultural nations. It may also regain some of its manufacturing strength by employing robotics. The United States and Japan will excel in telecommunications and computers. These two fields will become increasingly interconnected; this will become the largest industry in the world. It is the industry that AT&T has in mind as it goes into computers, IBM as it goes into telecommunications. But this pattern will continue only during a transition period. The long-term goal should be a regional self-sufficiency in basic products that allows different regions to enrich one another through their different pursuits. Eventually a country shouldn’t have to buy its food or cars from some other distant region. Transporting a car made in Yokahama halfway around the world in order to sell it is New York makes no sense. It’s a waste of resources, for everyone. FB: We end up, as in most discussions like this, back in the realm of politics. Clearly politics will be the key to determining whether the computer revolution will succeed. What sorts of political changes will have to take place in the United States for the computer revolution to fulfill its potential? JJSS: I don’t think the traditional political establishment, as such, can lead us into the new age. America should look to new sources of strength, new types of leaders. Many of your university officials and professors have a tremendous amount of insight. I think that their influence will grow in coming years. When a leader of a U.S. university takes a public stand, he or she will be listened to more attentively than politicians are. The West needs to develop a much more decentralized politics. The more widely you disseminate knowledge and power, the better the chance of making decisions that are right for the public good. The consensus for the future must come from the broadest possible base of citizens. Political parties, presidential campaigns, and paid political media should play less and less of a role in politics. The technology of the computer revolution can help hasten this process of change. Personal computers linked with data bases could enable citizens to increase their political knowledge. And the new technologies that can make television viewing more interactive—that have beep usedtohold “electronic town meetings,” for example, at which home viewDATAPROSE™ TYPESETTING — Specializing in Book Production Your Northwest 315 North 36th Street Seattle, Washington 98103 (206) 633-3666 Are you finding morewhysin your path than your present maps show? Perhaps you should try Quest Bookshop for some new maps. WE RENT BOOKS for relaxation supplies and New Age Music Over 600 Titles of Music and Pion-Music Listen before you buy. 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